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Case Number 05914

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The Ed Wood Box

Glen Or Glenda?
1953 // 67 Minutes // Not Rated
Jail Bait
1954 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Bride Of The Monster
1955 // 68 Minutes // Not Rated
Night Of The Ghouls
1959 // 69 Minutes // Not Rated
Plan 9 From Outer Space
1959 // 79 Minutes // Not Rated
The Haunted World Of Edward D. Wood, Jr.
1996 // 111 Minutes // Not Rated
Released by Image Entertainment
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // January 7th, 2005

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All Rise...

And remember, my friends, future reviews such as Judge Bill Gibron's of this craptacular box set will affect you in the future!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Big Box Of Wood (published August 12th, 2011), Plan 9 From Outer Space (published July 10th, 2002), and Plan 9 From Outer Space (In Color) (published June 27th, 2006) are also available.

The Charge

The worst director of all time? You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!

Opening Statement

Look, let's get one thing straight. Listen carefully, because it's about to be made perfectly clear to you. Facts are going to be offered, opinions formulated and posited. If you need to continue to function under the misguided belief being bandied about by the current popular culture, then perhaps this in-depth diatribe is not for you. Best pick up a copy of some standard faux-fancy fish wrap and regale in their ridiculous positions. Though he's held this reputation for so long that it's hard to imagine a time when it didn't seem true, the reality is far more refreshing, and even a little invigorating. Are you paying attention yet? Okay? Good, 'cause here we go (deep breath):


There, it's been said. This critic did it, and he's damn proud.

Oh, you're not convinced? You need proof? Nothing will subvert your media-fed bias against Edward and his innocent nods toward simpleton cinema. Still got those Golden Turkey tirades in your head, those misguided, pre-VHS versions of the borders of badness? Well, in light of the recent archeological aspects of the digital revolution, where any anti-entertainment atrocity can find its way onto the aluminum disc medium, Wood should be set aside as some incredibly worthy, woefully inept entities rise up to take his muddled movie mantle.

Anyone who's sat through Red Zone Cuba (a.k.a. Night Train to Mundo Fine), The Skydivers, or The Beat of Yucca Flats will acknowledge that, when it comes to directorial skill, Coleman Francis sure was fat. His non-linear, exposition-absent motion picture abscesses are enough to give film fans the shite cinema shingles. Better yet, boil your bottom in a non-stop brew of Arch Hall Sr. celluloid for once. Between Eegah! (which he actually directed) and such scribbled sputum as Wild Guitar, What's Up Front, and The Nasty Rabbit, he tried to turn his Betsy Wetsy boychick of a son into a meaningful matinee idol. He couldn't even manage a fallen, forgotten has-been. From the urban nightmare of Dale Resteghini to the plethora of indie kiddies camcordering the very soul out of film, there are many more defective offenders who could wear the crown of crud. Why anyone still considers Wood the worst is just a mystery, especially after perusing Image's new collection The Ed Wood Box. Was Edward haphazard, scattered, and more than a little lame? Sure. Is he the most dreadful director of all time? Hardly.

Facts of the Case

Though it does not represent every film Wood ever directed or was even closely associated with (some sensational classics like The Sinister Urge, The Violent Years, and Orgy of the Dead are missing), Image's box set of five of the fellow's best-known films (and one compendium DVD featuring a documentary and other Wood rarities) is quite an accomplishment. Unless your name is Scorsese, Chaplin, or Cassavetes, it's rare to get this kind of career retrospective in a single set of discs. Sure, one could point out that this assemblage is merely a set of previously issued discs with the inclusion of another DVD, and that all the films are available separately, but that would destroy the drama of the point, so let's just skip it, shall we? Instead, let's focus on the films actually offered here, a queer quagmire of quintuplets that prove, conclusively, that Wood was a daft—but not dreck-filled—filmmaker with his heart—if not necessarily his tenuous talent—in the right place. In chronological order, let's begin with:

• Glen or Glenda? (1953)
A transvestite is found dead, an obvious suicide. Hoping to understand what would drive a woman…umm…man to do such a thing, Inspector Warren seeks out the professional advice of Dr. Alton, noted nut-jobber. Our headshrinker describes the differing cases of Glen, who enjoys wearing ladies' clothing, especially angora sweaters. We see him go through his daily life, hiding his shame and keeping his secret from girlfriend Barbara. Eventually, Glen has a Daliesque episode where the faces of those he's wronged flash before him in a really tacky dream sequence. He resolves his issues with Barbara and puts "Glenda" to rest for good. We then learn about Alan, a normal sort of bloke who actually undergoes sex reassignment surgery and ends up looking like Granny Clampett. Anne's saga ends happily as well (he/she even gets a few catcalls). All the while, a cosmic crackpot figure who looks strangely like a morphine-addicted Count Dracula babbles on and on about stories being told and strings being pulled.

• Jail Bait (1954)
Don Gregor is a bad seed bum of a brother who constantly embarrasses his erstwhile sister and famed plastic surgeon father. When not committing criminal acts and hanging out with his mob syndicate cronies, he's coming home late and disrespecting his familial duties (the bastard!). Thanks to his chief chum, the small time hood Vic Brady, Don finds himself in the middle of a warehouse holdup. He kills a security guard and immediately moves up the felonious food chain from petty thug to public enemy Numero Uno. The police question Dad and Sis, hoping to figure where Don is holing up. Turns out he's sharing the swank digs of Vic's mealy-mouthed moll, Loretta. After deciding to give himself up, Vic puts a few bullets between Don and his confession. Needing a way to escape, the bumbling Brady decides to change his…face. And guess who gets the medical mandate? Why, Don's MD daddy, that's who. But Dr. Gregor has some nip-and-tuck revenge to exact, and he won't let Brady get away without at least one fatal facelift.

• Bride of the Monster (1955)
After leaving his Eastern European homeland where he was labeled a kook, Dr. Eric Varnoff arrives in California and immediately goes about his master plan—to create a race of super beings (and to think the Iron Curtain was adverse to the idea…). Using his own human homunculus, Lobo, and a radioactive octopus, Varnoff captures people and experiments on them. If the results aren't up to his liking, it's death by killer calamari. The police catch wind of the seafood slaughter and send their best cop, the whisper-thin Dick Craig, to unravel the murderous mystery. As luck would have it, Dick is dating cub reporter Janet Lawton, and she goes and gets herself kidnapped by the dopey doc while doing some scoop snooping. It's not long before it's a battle to the death as Varnoff vows vengeance, the cops close in, and Lobo lumbers around a lot.

• Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Aliens from a far-off planet decide to play nuclear deterrent as they arrive on Earth to stop the development of the Solaranite bomb. Having used eight previous plans to no avail, they decide to employ Plan 9: the resurrection of the recently deceased. Apparently, some dead guys walking around will get the attention of authorities. Putting their plot into action, they reanimate a departed old man and his dead wife, both of whom apparently had a vampire fixation. She bears a striking resemblance to Vampira and he looks just like Bela Lugosi—well, sort of, sometimes. When neighbors next to the cemetery contact the cops about the odd goings-on amongst the gravestones, Inspector Dan Clay arrives with his men to check it out. He is immediately killed by the ghoulish couple and brought back from the dead. It requires military intervention, a self-assured airline pilot, and some rather roundabout plotting to keep the extraterrestrials from having their zombified way.

• Night of the Ghouls (1959)
Dr. Varnoff's home, recently purchased by mentalist Dr. Acula (get it?), is the site once again of some spooky shenanigans. Seems people claim they see ghosts of both the black and the white variety. Once again, the police are required to investigate, but this time, they have a secret weapon. Lt. Dan Bradford cracked the previous Varnoff offenses (even though he was Lt. John Harper back then…huh?) and is now law enforcement's Number One supernatural sleuth. Yep, when there's something strange in your neighborhood, you don't call Ghostbusters, you get Lt. Bradford on the horn. Finding himself back at the once haunted home, he quickly assesses the situation. Acula is a con man, bilking the bereaved out of their inheritances with phony phone calls from beyond the grave. But before our paranormal PI can react to the scamola, Lobo makes a reappearance. Our braised behemoth is sporting a fashionable set of facial scars and a really pissed-off attitude. It will take yet another armada of armed lawmen to finally rid this residence of its terrifying traits. Oh yeah, and there really is a ghost glomming onto the basic plot points.

The Evidence

When viewing the Ed Wood oeuvre, one has to take a few things into consideration. First, there must be some reason why these films have lasted as long as they have. With some passing the half-century mark, it's amazing that we can still witness their wild, weird beauty in a postmillennial medium. Had Wood truly been a talentless turd, pumping out the poop like a dieter indulging in sugar-free low carb candy, his fetid features would have been placed in the cosmic commode, like the vast majority of the meretricious offal of the time, and flushed right down into the sewer of sameness with the rest of the hacks. No, timelessness is measured in impact, not incompetence, and no matter how amateurish his films feel, there is an infinite quality to Wood's work that is hard to deny—the vision of "Glenda" doing some scandalous window shopping; pie pan space ships skirting the Hollywood hills; Tor Johnson trying his best to mobilize his massive girth around some cardboard sets; Bela Lugosi's last gasp for some manner of dignity. All of these issues are present in the endearing Ed Wood catalog.

True, every time Dolores Fuller shows up on screen, millions of hack actors around the world feel better about their own forced performances (this woman wouldn't understand the notion of naturalistic line reading if mandated to her upon penalty of torture!). And the rest of Wood's creative cinematic film company was mostly comprised of the forgotten, the failed, or the foolish. Yet somehow, channeled through Ed's distorted viewfinder, old cowboys became swamis, wrestlers became detectives, and dead superstars could make movies from beyond the grave. No one will ever mistake Wood's productions for the professional, or even the passable. But they are passionate, and filled with a love of simple storytelling. The fact that such elements get increasingly eccentric in practice is part of Wood's charm.

Something like Jail Bait is a basic, bungling cops-and-robbery romp—that is, until Ed inserts some bizarre minstrel show sequence into the mix. Who else would pepper his personal plea for transvestite tolerance with a mondo bizzaro dream sequence condemning his proclivity? Or better yet, heighten his narrative with random stock footage shots, complete with a superimposed Bela Lugosi ranting like a retarded Rotarian? Bride of the Monster infuses its mad scientist melodrama with even more pointless subplotting than a soap opera, while Night of the Ghouls tries to be a sequel without actually incorporating any element from the previous film. And then there is Plan 9, a woefully underappreciated amusement that wants to be all things to all pictogram patrons, but can't muster the mediocrity to do so. No, like most of Wood's works, this twisted tale of grave robbers from outer space functions in its own vacuum of meaning, preaching to the perverted in a manner more mesmerizing than misplaced.

Perhaps it's better to look at each film separately, to see where Wood succeeds and when his vision violates even his own arcane attributes, beginning with what is, perhaps, Wood's most complicated creation.

• Glen or Glenda? (1953)
Though few here are old enough to remember Christine Jorgensen or Dr. Renée Richards, there was a time when the sex change was the most scandalous subject any film could tackle. Hot on the heels of George Jorge's gender-bending foray into elective surgery, exploitation producers were hungry to highjack the headlines. George Weiss hired a neophyte named Ed Wood to make a movie about personal sex reassignment, and instead got a love letter to an individually familiar fetish. Wood used I Changed My Sex (the original title of Glen or Glenda?, or maybe it's the other way around) as an opportunity to dispel some myths about men who liked to dress in women's clothes, and to work out a few of his own interpersonal pantyline issues along the way.

Glen or Glenda? is part docudrama, part private plea, and the very antithesis of what Weiss was looking for. By dealing with the dilemma of gender confusion in a more or less upfront way, Wood created more questions for an early '50s audience than he ever dared answer. Calling up God (both in reference and reality, through the mischievously miscast Lugosi) and science simultaneously, Wood suggests that cross-dressing is an individual choice that can be cured by the love of a good woman. Using a suicide storyline to delve into facts, fallacies, and freak-outs (some PhDs will make names for themselves trying to untangle that Act III dream sequence of familial and social condemnation), Wood walks us through more tranny turmoil than most Americans could conceivably consider. The closing conceit of having Alan metamorphose into Anne (though, frankly, the actor essaying the role is just a really ugly woman throughout) is everything a grindhouse gadfly could wish for—except that Wood wants sympathy, not sensationalism, for his character. Indeed, all of Glen or Glenda? plays like a journal entry gone goofy. Like a car wreck covered in marital aids, Glen or Glenda? is a milestone in the misapplication of private penchants. Wood would never work this close to his own home bone ever again.

• Jail Bait (1954)
Here is a perfect example of what would have happened had Wood found his way into the legitimate studio system as a workaday B-movie maker. Jail Bait is so god-awful dull, so intolerable in storytelling and weak in wonder, that you'll find yourself fighting your own criminal urge, as you'll want to kill everyone involved in this film. It's not just that Wood fails to develop his straightforward storyline beyond its rote parameters, or that the performances all reek of retirement home thespianism. No, the real reason Jail Bait sucks freshwater perch is that it's all talk and no walk. Instead of criminal derring-do and police puffery, we get 70 minutes of mindless chatter, without any of the hardboiled lingo that makes such exposition fests so much fun.

Most crime thrillers from the '40s and '50s were a mixture of personality, performance, and peculiarities, a chance to take law and order into a more menacing, sinister direction. Sadly, Wood supplants the suspense by adding a shirtless Steve Reeves (how homocentric of him) and commits his own crimes against humanity by including a really random, horribly racist blackface number. Though Timothy Farrell (a grade-Z stalwart who appeared in such memorable off-title treats as Racket Girls, The Violent Years, and Test Tube Babies) tries his best to impersonate a streetwise hoodlum, he comes across more like a pissed-off insurance adjuster. And the dreary Clancy Malone just can't seem to breathe life into his black sheep son Don Gregor. Instead of unctuous, he comes off as unconscious. When dopey Dolores Fuller and the Confederate colonel-ness of silent star Herbert Rawlinson are the best things about your felony film cast, you know you're in trouble. Jail Bait is definitely the worst movie in this set.

• Bride of the Monster (1955)
Wood's first leap into the realm of sci-fi and horror proves conclusively that these were the genres best suited to showcasing his amazingly misguided muse. Paying homage to the terror tales of the past while placing Ed's own peculiarities front and center, Bride of the Monster is no more abominable than a myriad of other monster movies to come out of the post-nuclear call to alarms. Indeed, it gives Bela Lugosi his final stab at resurrected respectability (he is a hammy honey as Dr. Varnoff) and launches Tor Johnson into iconographic legend (his was a face that inspired at least one well-known Halloween mask). Certainly, there are elements here that just don't gel—the stock footage octopus, the lame cardboard laboratory—but overall, Monster is a masterwork of mediocrity, rising up just enough to avoid the label of completely lamentable loser.

With Monster, one can now begin to see the freaky formula Wood relied on when crafting his crazy screenplays. First, the police are always the heroes in his films, be they breaking up a racket of pornographers (The Sinister Urge) or trying to figure out the phantasmagoric happenings in an old house (Night of the Ghouls). It's rare when law enforcement fails to make an appearance in a Wood narrative, and Monster is no different. It is just loaded with loony coppers. Secondly, at the center of each story is a misunderstood man, someone hounded for his weird wardrobe issues (Glen) or desire to take over the world (Eros from Plan 9). Monster has Dr. Varnoff, who just wants to create his master race in relative peace. Finally, God seems to find his way into the issue resolution business whenever Wood needs a narrative out. His influence, via Lugosi, "cures" Glen, guides Dr. Gregor's scalpeled hand (though this is more or less inferred), gives us Americans the strength to destroy the aliens, and subverts Dr. Acula's sham séances (some pissed-off phantoms return to enact revenge). Indeed, it is a bolt of lightning that ends Varnoff's reign of terror, and puts Monster firmly in its place in Ed's eclectic pantheon.

• Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Constantly regaled as Wood's worst film, Plan 9 is actually his best. Sure, some could argue that Monster makes more sense from a strict horror movie mannerism, or that Jail Bait bandies along as a crime noir novelty, but if you are looking for the purest presentation of Wood's cinematic vision without all the pseudo-sexual psychobabble, Plan 9 is your motion picture. This movie does have the feeling of dozens of loose ends being knitted together by a matron in oversized mittens. There are moments so sublime, so stupefyingly surreal, that you'll wonder how anyone could have ever conceived of them, let alone put them on film. Instantly ingratiating itself into your aesthetic from the opening sequence (God bless your spit-curled little head, Mr. Criswell), this is cinema as an unfathomable experience, a chance to see something incredibly original and out of the ordinary.

Plan 9 is a movie that only works within its limitations, though. Had a big budget been imposed onto Wood's wonky script, the film would have truly been an exercise in excrement. But thanks to the lack of budget, the need to improvise, and the peculiar vision of its creator, Plan 9 sings like a slightly soiled songbird, treating us to images we won't long forget. Not so much a narrative as a series of strung-together sequences about the strange shizzle going on in a local cemetery, Plan 9 percolates like a wonderfully aromatic pot of java, just waiting to fill your crackpot cup until it runneth over. It is a film that is better experienced than described, a work of bruised bravado that just doesn't understand where, when, and how it's stumbling. Someone with a more conscious consideration for the constants of cinema would have made this movie intolerable. But thanks to Wood's genial zaniness, Plan 9 becomes its own enticing entity.

• Night of the Ghouls (1959)
Trying to recapture the magic of Monster with the lessons learned in playing out Plan 9, Night of the Ghouls definitely feels like an amalgamation of Wood's previous trilogy of tripe. There is the staid detective dung of Jail Bait, the constant shifting between the supernatural and the spurious of Plan 9—there's even a repeat of the place and the premise (kind of) from Bride of the Monster. But where Monster and Plan 9 sailed, and Jail Bait failed, Night of the Ghouls just flails. As great as it is to see Tor Johnson return as a melted-faced Lobo (a fairly decent effect, actually) or to witness the Haunted Mansion affectation of the spiritualist sequences, Ed just can't seem to get the narrative up and running. Instead, it just sits there, like a premise waiting for a push. Never seen in its day (Wood could not afford the lab fees for processing the footage, and the movie wasn't recovered until the early '80s), Ghouls isn't so much a lost Wood classic as it is a case of something that, perhaps, should have really remained forgotten.

Ex-big screen cowpoke Kenne Duncan makes a less than intriguing Dr. Acula, coming across more like a middle manager than a mentalist. Part of the problem with his performance is that one can easily see Lugosi chewing up the scenery as the swindling psychic. The other aspect is that Wood hasn't given Duncan much to do. He mostly sits around and recites some rather inane paranormal patter. As for the rest of the cast, it's filler, not name fame time, as many of the more ancillary actors in the Wood repertoire get a chance to strut their stunted stuff. And they do so sheepishly. Though it's all Orson Welles compared to Jail Bait's badness, Night of the Ghouls just can't reach Glenda, Monster, or Plan 9's level of lunacy. Not even the bumbling bloated brilliance of Johnson—or his counterpart in portliness, the hilarious Harvey B. Dunn—can save this film from itself. Night of the Ghouls tried to recapture the magic in Wood's other works. Too bad the director didn't realize what an incredibly limited supply actually existed therein.

The final DVD in this set is a grab bag of sorts, a collection of odds and sods that both supports and subverts Wood's place in the pantheon of pictures. Crafted in 1996 as a response to Tim Burton's highly fictionalized take on the filmmaker's life, The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. is an amazingly effective documentary, a chance to hear the people who knew and worked with Ed defend and/or destabilize his legacy. Most are here to praise Edward, not destroy him, but a few obviously feel taken or trivialized by being associated with his films. Those butting up against Wood's world are Gregory Walcott and Bela Lugosi Jr. The son of the fabled fallen idol has every right to feel hurt. More people probably know his Pop from his mediocre work with Wood than for the amazing movies he made in the '30s and '40s. Walcott is an anomaly, someone who can't wait to undermine Plan 9 every chance he gets, though he obviously has benefited from being part of Wood's hack pack.

Though it would have been nice to hear more about Wood's later years (just like Burton's biography, one would never really know that Ed died an alcoholic pornographer) The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. is a strangely moving experience, like watching some secret celebrities finally get their just recognition. Brett Thompson's near-definitive take on Wood's life and times makes The Ed Wood Box a must-own memento for any true film fan. Wood's career demanded something as salient as this documentary, and The Haunted World pulls very few punches.

On the technical side of the issue, don't expect some manner of Criterion retrofitting of the titles in this set. Each disc here represents a previous release of an Ed Wood film and sticks very closely to the specs originally offered. On Glen or Glenda, Jail Bait, and Bride of the Monster, we are treated to a trailer-only DVD presentation. Night of the Ghouls gives us a choice of bad movie ads, none of which focus on the film in question. Plan 9 contains the campy complement Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: A Plan 9 Companion, a slapdash bit of ballyhoo that combines a wealth of detail, mired by some unfortunate production issues (the host, for example, is less than engaging).

The vastness of the bonus material arrives on the Haunted World DVD. Included here you will find the sole commentary tracks (for the documentary itself, the newly discovered Ed Wood "feature" Crossroads of Laredo, some reunion footage from a Palm Springs film festival and the premiere of Haunted World), a bunch of behind-the-scenes and celebratory material, a gaggle of photo galleries, and even some bloopers / making of mischief.

The commentaries are a mixed bag, incorporating individuals involved in the production and those who've studied Wood for a long time. On these tracks you will find director Brett Thompson, Bela Lugosi Jr., Pat Thomas—who was married to the now-deceased Wood associate Crawford John Thomas—producer Alan Doshna, and authors Kent Adamson and Charles Phoenix discussing, in intricate detail, the trials and tribulations of trying to bring Haunted World to the screen. They share several anecdotes about some of the diva tactic taken and generally provide insight into how something like this gets made. Many of these people appear on the other alternative narrative tracks and, for the most part, they add depth and delight to the discussions.

As for the value of these various bonuses, you truly get a cocktail mix of necessary and novelty nuts. The Palm Springs reunion and the premiere footage are fine, each one offering the chance to see several of Wood's wonders in one setting (and sitting). The unedited interview footage of director Thompson and Mike Gabriel from an A&E Biography on Wood is also interesting, giving us a better understanding of the communal feel of their Wood obsession. Vampira herself also gets a few more feet of Q&A in the behind-the-scenes featurette. She fumbles a few times, but also provides some catty, conceited quotables. Dolores Fuller and Rev. Dr. Lynn Lemon are also present, stumbling and stuttering through their individual sit-downs.

And the added content continues. There is a segment from the old Sci-Fi Channel Buzz program about the documentary, dozens of images in the various picture galleries and a nice "In Memoriam" section in tribute to those performers and persons associated with the film that passed away since it was made. But the biggest bonanza for film fans will be the discovery, restoration and presentation of Crossroads of Laredo, Wood's woefully dull 23-minute Western. With a brand new, rather bland soundtrack and some of the worst voiceover acting imaginable, this simple story of unrequited cowboy love and wrongful accusations is more or less a curiosity for the completist only. Others will be simple dumbstruck by how boring it all is.

On the sound and image front, The Ed Wood Box is a true mixed bag. Plan 9 looks the best, but that's because of the recent Special Edition treatment the movie received. Its monochrome is magnificent, with minimal defects or mastering mistakes. Night of the Ghouls also looks brand spanking new, because it basically is. The 1983 transfer keeps the black and white elements in beautifully correct contrasts. Moving down the acceptability meter, Jail Bait is next in line. Somewhat soft, occasionally grainy, and lacking the real vibrancy of Plan 9 or Ghouls, this is still an acceptable version of this film. Getting the short end of the cinematic stick are Bride of the Monster and Glen or Glenda?, with the cross-dressing epic taking first prize for worst transfer. Filled with scratches, dirt, splicing errors, and dropouts, this DVD presentation is a near-VHS version of mixed media malfunctions. Bride is not quite as bad, but does still have grit and grime issues. For Full Frame films almost 50 years old, the majority of The Ed Wood Box is made up of decent, acceptable prints. But they are by no means definitive or reference quality.

As for the image presented on The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr., there are good points and bad points. The print sings of the low-budget attributes under which it was created, with less-than-correct color and some horribly faded facets. While the incorporation of older footage works out well, and overall the picture is presentable, this title could use a complete makeover remaster ASAP. The Dolby Digital Stereo sounds wonderful, especially the incredibly evocative score by Louis Febre. This moody movie music really helps to sell the bygone era ideal of the film. All of the old movies are examples of Dolby Digital Mono at its most mediocre. Most of the aural aspects are shrill, flat, and without much real atmosphere (with Plan 9 the sole exception).

Closing Statement

Okay, look: No one is claiming that Ed Wood is some manner of forgotten auteur who made a series of sensational movies that were incorrectly categorized as compost by a few closed-minded critics. While Wood's reputation is indeed the direct result of a narrow examination of the available video vomit on the market at the time (woefully insufficient to judge him justly), he does have his hard spots. Frankly, anyone who could declare Ed and his Plan 9 as the bottom of the barrel after witnessing something like Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Attack of the the Eye Creatures (yep, the second "the" is there on purpose), or The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman needs to have his or her cinematic credentials checked, pronto.

Over the course of The Ed Wood Box, we can see that a singular vision, filled with lawmen, lunacy, and the occasional logic leap, drove most of Wood's weird output. But another aspect to his career is also evident. Ed was in love with the idea of making movies, of creating something that would hopefully stand the test of time and live on for decades after he left the Earth. It wasn't about the money or the fame—it was about the idea of filmmaking and the notion of bringing dreams to life on screen.

So how about giving the guy a break, huh? Channel all that negative entertainment energy onto someone who really deserves it. After all, Akiva Goldsman sleeps on a big stack of cash and an Oscar, and the movies he writes are the celluloid equivalent of a colostomy bag. Shoot some shame that hack's way. Let Ed rest in peace. He deserves it.

The Verdict

Ed Wood, his Box, and the highly original output therein—Jail Bait excluded—are all found not guilty and are free to go. Image is applauded for giving us a healthy slab of Ed's endearing eccentricity. Here's hoping the rest of his unusual oeuvre makes it to DVD soon.

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Scales of Justice, Glen Or Glenda?

Video: 75
Audio: 79
Extras: 10
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Glen Or Glenda?

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 67 Minutes
Release Year: 1953
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Glen Or Glenda?

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, Jail Bait

Video: 84
Audio: 75
Extras: 10
Acting: 40
Story: 20
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile, Jail Bait

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 1954
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Jail Bait

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, Bride Of The Monster

Video: 79
Audio: 80
Extras: 10
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Bride Of The Monster

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Release Year: 1955
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Bride Of The Monster

• Trailer

Scales of Justice, Night Of The Ghouls

Video: 88
Audio: 82
Extras: 10
Acting: 70
Story: 60
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile, Night Of The Ghouls

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 69 Minutes
Release Year: 1959
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Night Of The Ghouls

• Trailers

Scales of Justice, Plan 9 From Outer Space

Video: 90
Audio: 88
Extras: 95
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Plan 9 From Outer Space

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Year: 1959
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Plan 9 From Outer Space

• Trailer
• Companion Documentary: "Flying Saucers Over Hollywood"

Scales of Justice, The Haunted World Of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Video: 80
Audio: 85
Extras: 100
Story: 100
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, The Haunted World Of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Haunted World Of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

• Audio Commentary by Director Brett Thompson, Cast Relatives Bela Lugosi Jr. and Pat Thomas, Producer Alan Doshna, and Authors Kent Adamson and Charles Phoenix
• Original Director's 111-Minute Cut with Restored Overture
• Ed Wood's First Film: Crossroads of Laredo
• Sci-Fi Channel's Buzz: Coverage of the Hollywood Premiere
• Featurette: 1996 Hollywood World Premiere
• Featurette: Ed Wood Reunion at the Palm Springs International Film Festival
• Interview with Brett Thompson From A&E's Biography: Tim Burton
• Outtakes by Dolores Fuller, Vampira, Lyle Talbot, and Reverend Lemon
• Photo Galleries

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